Christiansen began in the late '90s in Louisville, where it existed as a side project in between other bands, school, and real life. Vocalist/guitarist Brandon Bondehagen, guitarist Drew Sellers, bassist Brad Magers, and drummer Terry Campbell wrote a few songs and played a few shows, but it wasn't until the 1998 demo Up Front With the Girls that Christiansen really began to take itself seriously, and make a live dent locally. The proper debut, Above Lunar Emissions, appeared in 2000 on All Star. It showcased the combo's increasingly kitchen sink approach to emo and post-hardcore, which drew on the intellectual, angular sound of Louisville indie combos like Slint and Elliott. The latter group's Kevin Ratterman was a guiding force for the band, helping out with its demo and co-producing the debut.